For the last six years, I've shared my annual list of the Top 5 Hispanic Advertising Agencies to Watch. I have been truly blessed and so appreciative for the response the series has received in the form of comments, emails, DMs and shares. Along the journey however, I've felt the project has been incomplete.
While shining a spotlight on the Hispanic Ad community is important, there are a lot of impressive marketing agencies that are doing some incredible work in the Hispanic marketplace as well. In the past I've tried to shoehorn some of those agencies onto my list but realized I was doing a disservice to you, the readers. The truth is marketing and advertising agencies are very different their role in the buyer's journey is equally important.
It goes without saying that the last two years have been unlike any we've ever faced or probably will. The role marketing firms are playing is vital as brands pivot to meet the changing demands of their consumers. In February 2020, its was reported that brands planned to spend 11.3% of their total budgets on marketing, on average. By June 2020, this rose to 12.6%. This clearly reflected a change in the priorities of corporations now left scrambling to retain customers and maintain brand awareness through untenable times. Yet there remained many incorrect assumptions including one that the pandemic was a momentary inconvenience and worse yet, simple represented a temporary hurdle and the world would eventually return to order.
While the prospects for the future look promising, there exists more economic uncertainty than we've had in generations. With as much as 60% of businesses permanently closed or temporarily impacted by the pandemic, there's a lot of market share up for grabs. And while opportunities certainly exist for growth, that's only accessible to those with a plan to attract, convert and close net new customers. With the virus still looming, the risks posed by variants remain high so many will go it alone, and unfortunately fail. Others will be aggressive but do so with the assistance of a skilled marketing agency.
Topping this inaugural marketing agency list this year is The Nativa. They have been on my radar for a few years now. Founded in 2008 by the quadrilingually fluent Argentinian, Natasha Pongonis (English, Spanish, French and Italian) and her partner, former Staples executive, Eric Diaz, The Nativa describes itself as a "communications agency with expertise in multicultural marketing focusing on the Hispanic audience."
One of the first things that stands out about the agency is their name: The Nativa or "The Native". This is perhaps the most powerfully direct and succinct agency brand name that exists today. With offices in Columbus, OH and Phoenix, AZ, The Nativa packs a punch with a service offering consisting of online, social media and a powerful influencer network that drives thought leadership in the United States and across Latin America.
The Nativa prides itself on its proprietary social listening methodology, OYE! This business intelligence solution's proprietary algorithm effectively tracks, segments, and monitors real-time online in-language conversations. The Nativa leverages this data to provide gender, language, social channel and other data-driven insights. This helps their clients make more educated business decisions about their marketing strategies by strengthening their comprehensive understanding of the customer.
The Nativa has an impressive book of business including Mass Mutual, Army National Guard, Abbot Pharmaceutical, Charmin Toilet Paper, Fox Broadcasting, Henkel (Dial Soap, Gliss, Got2b, Renuzit, Schwarzkopf, Tone Skincare), Kroger and has been busy during the pandemic working on COVID-19 campaigns for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) targeting the Latinx community.
The Nativa has been widely acclaimed, having won American Marketing Association's 2017, 2019 & 2021 Multicultural Marketing Award and BizTech's 2020 Minority-Owned Business of the Year. With a resume that reads like this, The Nativa has boxed out significant marketshare in the space.
Another extremely strong agency to watch is the San Diego based shop, Captura Group. Co-founded in 2001 by Chief Creative Officer and President, Michelle Moscona and Chief Strategy Officer, Lee Vann, Captura is playing on a whole other level. While they certainly have the pedigree, having worked with the likes of Kellogg’s, Knorr, POND’s, Allstate Pemex and Bimbo, I honestly can say they are far and away the most prepared and polished agency I've featured to date. Pound for Pound, Captura should be at the top of any Hispanic agency list.
Prior to co-founding Captura Group, Moscona worked at several online companies, including WeddingChannel.com (theknot.com) and Pictage.com, developing and implementing online marketing programs. At Captura, she is the creative visionary with an "intuitive understanding of the Hispanic digital consumer."
Her co-founder, Lee Vann previously served as Vice President of L90 Latino which later became MaxWorldwide. Vann invests his time working on the digital strategy side of the business, helping clients accomplish business objectives and deliver consumer value.
Captura has a sound strategic approach leveraging research as the cornerstone of every engagement as they strive to understand the target "intimately" through qualitative and quantitate research, competitive benchmarking and usability testing. But what separates Captura from the pack is their proprietary Hispanic influencer and content marketing platform, Contenido Latino. A truly forward thinking concept that's way ahead of its time.
In my years admiring and cataloging Hispanic agencies around the world, one common challenge I've seen many agencies have is balancing both new business acquisition with client management. PALM ERA is an agency that has found that subtle balance. If I had a "the full package" award, I would most certainly give it to PALM ERA. (Perhaps I should think about that for next year.)
Rare is it to find an agency that not only fully understands how to effectively win new business while simultaneously being able to deliver and engage multicultural consumers in a thoughtful and authentic way. I believe that is a testament to their CEO, J.C. Cedeno. The former Wilkot head has built a strong leadership, littered with previous experience working at large agencies and corporations. A C.P.A. by trade, Cedeno brings a unique finance perspective to the agency which has helped PALM ERA grow a team of over 90 employees and making them arguably one of the most important Hispanic marketing agencies in Latin America.
Unlike may agencies that try to be all things for every Latinx consumer, PALM ERA actually has the capabilities to truly be a one-stop full-service agency that provides comprehensive, end-to-end services for their clients. If you are looking for an omni-channel approach to streamline your cost and efficiency, look no further than PALM ERA.
While based in Miami, PALM ERA has offices in Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, and Argentina. Their portfolio features exemplary campaigns with Caribbean giants MoneyGram, DigiCel and Cable & Wireless as well as work with Revlon, Walmart and Unicef among others.
In 2019, Cedeno and PALM ERA received an Emmy for the web series, #GenerationSearch based on the concept of transformational travel & heritage that promotes Latin American pride and cultural diversity by uniting the US and Guatemala, through content marketing.
Sube Agencia Digital
There is probably not an agency I have been more excited about including on my list than Sube Agencia Digital. Sube is a remarkable Mexico City based firm founded in 2017 by visionary and 15 year industry veteran, Santiago Rubio.
Full disclosure, Santiago and I have become friends and I respect him and his agency a ton. Because of that, I've been really reluctant to feature Sube to maintain the impartiality of my list.
All that being said, their work in the digital space continues to be among the best. They're proficient in a wide range of disciplines without being unfocused, including ad and video creative, app development, SEM, web design, branding, social media management, and content marketing. Where Sube differentiates themselves is in developing ecommerce solutions for their clients and their very unique online reputation building and defense services. You are not going to find another Hispanic Agency that can compete creatively with Sube. Their video, social and digital ad creative absolutely crushes the competition.
Watching from afar, its very clear they have invested far more resources than most agencies daily in connection and engagement strategies, refining combinations of copy, creative and strategic placement to solve for their clients. Sube's work exudes passion, not only for the what they do and the clients they offer, but perhaps most importantly, for themselves and their mission.
Sube also has offices in Miami, Columbia and scaling, growing over 10% in just the last 6 months. While recognized as the Top Digital Agency in Mexico and despite the fact Sube still largely only services the Spanish speaking market, the big players are beginning taking notice. Sube is a buy-low with tremendous upside.
Rounding off our list this year is the Chicago, Illinois based firm PACO Collective. Although they've been around since 2006, I was extremely delighted to first learn of this agency in the past year. Once a mirco ad shop, co-founders Ozzie Godinez and Pablo Acosta have nurtured PACO into a 40 person marketing powerhouse and one of the fastest growing in the Midwest. But size isn't necessarily value for PACO Collective. Despite their growth, they intend to keep the head-count under 100 to remain connected to the cultural values they've built.
Speaking of culture, it is at the heart of this amazing organization. They pride themselves on the belief that inclusive marketing starts with an inclusive approach to team building and permeates throughout every aspect of the agency. While their creative is impeccable, refined under the meticulous eye of Acosta, PACO Collective has an extremely strong multicultural research arm. They have published several data-driven resources about the statistical nuances of the Hispanic marketplace. Their other capabilities include media strategy, planning, buying and direct response. PACO Collective further differentiates with their very unique front- and back-of-house culinary solutions.
PACO Collective has had some very long-standing client relationships with BMO Harris Bank and COMED electric utilities and more recently with the Illinois Lottery, the Chicago Bears and Chicago White Sox. In addition to those sectors, PACO is also strong in the food & hospitality and healthcare verticals.
And there you have it. This year's inaugural top 5 Hispanic MARKETING Agencies to watch for 2022. Be sure to check back shortly for our top advertising agencies and a few surprises we have in store. Thanks you as always to all the agencies working hard to provide responsible marketing and communications across the Hispanic Diaspora.
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